voices to voices, lip to lip E.E. Cummings

voices to voices, lip to lip

E.E. Cummings

voices to voices, lip to lip
i swear (to noone everyone) constitutes
undying; or whatever this and that petal confutes . . .
to exist being a peculiar form of sleep

what’s beyond logic happens beneath will;
nor can these moments be translated: i say
that even after April
by God there is no excuse for May

– bring forth your flowers and machinery: sculpture and prose
flowers guess and miss
machinery is the more accurate, yes
it delivers the goods, Heaven knows

(yet are we mindful, though not as yet awake,
of ourselves which shout and cling, being
for a little while and which easily break
in spite of the best overseeing)

i mean that the blond absence of any program
except last and always and first to live
makes unimportant what i and you believe;
not for philosophy does this rose give a damn . . .

bring on your fireworks, which are a mixed
splendor of piston and pistil; very well
provided an instant may be fixed
so that it will not rub, like any other pastel.

(While you and i have lips and voices which
are for kissing and to sing with
who cares if some oneeyed son of a bitch
invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

each dream nascitur, is not made . . .)
why then to Hell with that: the other; this,
since the thing perhaps is
to eat flowers and not to be afraid.

This poem came to my attention a few years ago when my aunt showed me the line “to eat flowers and not to be afraid.” This line stuck out to me as she explained to me why she liked it so much. I have always enjoyed reading this poem. I think the sound flows so eloquently and the language is very understandable and easy to interpret as a reader. Although Cummings is known to be one of the first poets to change the structure and line breaks of his poems I do not notice a specific, premeditated structure in this particular piece. After doing a close reading of this poem there are many different aspects of sound as well as connotative and detonative meanings.

One of the first, most obvious observations I had was the rhyming. I noticed that in many stanza’s every other line, the last word rhymed with the one before the previous. For example;

“what’s beyond logic happens beneath will;
nor can these moments be translated: i say
that even after April
by God there is no excuse for May”

Cummings uses abstract language throughout this poem. There are many soft consonant sounds in various stanzas. For example;

– bring forth your flowers and machinery: sculpture and prose
flowers guess and miss
machinery is the more accurate, yes
it delivers the goods, Heaven knows

He uses repetition of consonants throughout this poem. The repeating “f” sound is very pleasant to read, as well as the repeating “p” sound in “piston and pistil”. The words “forth” and “flowers” seem to work seamlessly with each other. In terms of connotative and denotative language the word machinery at the end of this line is a great example. The word “machinery” is very much unexpected and puts an unexpected image into my head. When I read that line I picture flowers, specifically white daisy, and “machinery” seems to strip that image down to a raw, cold, and black thought. Machinery is very structured, and controlled however when I think of a flower they seem very carefree and alive. This seems like it is almost a contradiction which is a great way to play with imagery and give depth to the poem. There are many instances where Cummings plays with the imagery similar to this. When you continue on through the stanza Cummings explains that flowers are not accurate and machinery is. This is yet another place in this poem where Cummings creates a vision of cold and controlled machinery.

I honestly find this poem very difficult to analyze. There are so many places this takes your mind. As I read it over and over again I makes me visualize many different things. I am trying to figure out if this is Cumming’s way of ranting or if he is simply making a statement. He uses very simple words however he uses them in abstract ways that challenges the reader. However the challenge also creates something exciting for the reader. My favorite line is “eat flowers.” The thought of eating something so beautiful creates a carefree and loving tone to the end of the poem.

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